GATESVILLE, N.C. (WAVY) — Staff and students at Gates County Schools can expect to return to the classroom full-time and wear masks in most situations during the 2021-2022 school year.

The decision was made during a special called meeting of the Board of Education on Tuesday night. Board members decided unanimously to open schools on a traditional five days-per-week schedule with in-person learning.

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In addition, all students and staff will be required to wear a facemask while at school. This includes in-class and on school buses. However, masks will not be required during any outside event, including recess and PE.

“We know there are those who may oppose the wearing of facemasks,” Dr. Barry Williams, Superintendent said in a press release. “However, we also know that wearing facemask is one of the main defenses against the COVID virus and its variants.”

Physical distancing of at least three feet will be required when students and staff are eating.

The school year begins on August 23.